By: Amy Fredrickson
On March 17, 1624, Artemisia’s Saint Apollonia was recorded in an inventory of the Medici villa Imperiale. According to the inventory, Artemisia painted the missing painting on copper. While the work is currently unaccounted for, a version of Saint Apollonia, in addition to a canvas depicting Saint Lucy is in the collection of the Museo Soumaya in Mexico City. In the recently attributed painting, Artemisia depicts the saint from the waist up and set her in front of a dark background. The painting, which dates to her Neoplitain period, shows Saint Apollonia gazing heavenward. In her right-hand she holds the traditional symbols of torture, the outsized pinchers gripping a molar. Saint Apollonia was martyred in 248 AD, in Alexandria, and part of her martyrdom included the extraction of all her teeth. She was also threatened with burning unless she abandoned Christianity, which led to her voluntarily throwing herself on the flames.
Attributed to Artemisia Gentileschi, Saint Apollonia, c.1642-1644, oil on canvas, Museo Soumaya, Mexico City.
Bissel, R. Ward, Artemisia Gentileschi and the Authority of Art, (University Park: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999) p. 144 & 378.
Katritzky, M.A., Women, Medicine and Theatre, 1500-1750: Literary Mountebanks and Performing. (Ashgate, 2007), p. 62